Wednesday, July 24, 2024

Good bye my friend, good bye my leader

For all the beautiful words he used, in Setswana and English
And despite the use of the most hidden metaphors or his art of presentation
Even he, Motswaledi, on this day, could not have adequately captured the full extent of the towering life he led
He could not have fully shown the glow of his exemplary life
 
His humility would never have been willing to dig the chapters of the bible
The only place where men like him are found
He would have refused to be likened to Daniel or Moses
That’s exactly the man he was, a man of biblical proportions
 
This was Gomolemo the courageous, this was Sir G the visionary, this was Gomolemo the magnificent servant of the people
 
Yet it was not the grand visions he possessed or espoused that made him great
Nor was it his eloquence or his musical genius
It was the simple things with everyone he met, the small gestures, the humor, the laughters, the handshakes, the phone calls and the hugs that revealed the gift he was
How many men and women are able to live with us, among us, in this way, treating us as equals, believing in their equality with us, when in fact, something deep in them sets them apart
“Ina jame ke Gomolemo, sehane ke Motswaledi, ke tsalwa ko Serowe, mme ka maswabi ke kgaeletse mo Gaborone”
 
And true to his humility and despite that he was my president
Regardless that he was the senior brother, irrespective of his more valuable traits
He allowed us to live like equals, we did everything together
Never, on our long has anything, or anybody or any issue come in-between, not once
For everything we faced we faced as a team
He consulted on every decision, sought a view even on the most sensitive  
I remember our experiences and how we subsequently left the BDP
I remember the experiences when we decided that Gideon Boko, not him, must lead the Umbrella
 
This was Gomolemo the courageous, this was Sir G the visionary, this was Gomolemo the magnificent servant of the people
 
Although he was a people’s man living among the people and for the people
He was a man who reserved a special place in his heart for his family, loved his father, we called him “Tax”
Now this man is a walking dictionary of the Setswana language,
We made fun of him often, in a fond way
Tax is a man of prayer, long prayers, and is not the type of man you want to visit if you are in a hurry
Tax is the human form of strength and courage
There is no need to wonder where and how Gomolemo became a lion-tamer
 His brother, Gape, is a walking museum of his brother, in both physical disposition, in his language and Botho
He too was a subject of our jokes
Many years ago, on our way to the north, we filled our petrol at the BP station in Palapye
There was a young lady there who used to help us ÔÇô Malebogo ÔÇô I recall
He would say to me “kana nna le wena ha ne re le batho jaaka batho bangwe, re sa taboge le “struggle”, batho ba teng, motho o ka gorosa segametse”
 
Then within a year or so of our conversation, he wakes me early in the morning
“Rraetsho ke go boleletse gore ha re batho ba sepe. O gopola kgarejwana wa tsala ya rona ko Palapye.┬á Ke bua jaana lekolwane le Gape le re le a mo tsaya.┬á Tota nte ke re Gape o setse a mo tsere (mo gongwe mo ke tsamaiso hela).┬á Go raya gore rona re tla itshalela ka struggle hela”
How he loved his son Mozart ÔÇô I am not sure if Mozart knows, that this is the name I used to refer┬á to his father by, long before he was born, and I have to thank you for putting me as part of your video game football team
 
This was Gomolemo the courageous, this was Sir G the visionary, this was Gomolemo the magnificent servant of the people
 
He was no slave to western and foreign cultures
His culture, a medley of local cultures and languages, distinguished his poise
Truly an African, authentically the African
The type of African that Mbeki sees when he says
“I owe my being to the hills and the valleys, the mountains and the glades, the rivers, the deserts, the trees, the flowers, the seas and the ever-changing seasons that define the face of our native land”
 
But this wealth in African heritage did not mean he was oblivious to the world beyond the oceans
He wrote songs in Latin, and conducted mass choirs in Latin America
His sense of dress, meticulous, stately and sometimes colourful is what many of you will remember
He complained about my dress code, particularly my reluctance to wear orange jackets
My two most colourful jackets, orange and cheque ones, came from him on the day of my launch at Bonnington South
He would remind me of the lecture Rev Dibeela gave the two of us some time ago
“O seka wa lebala moruti a re re apere jaaka batho baba ka tlisang diphetego, gongwe le gongwe ko re yang teng”
 
This was Gomolemo the courageous, this was Sir G the visionary, this was Gomolemo the magnificent servant of the people
His generosity of heart, kindness and capacity to forgive were legendary
He had no personal hatred for anyone
Gomolemo hated no one one, he despised no one, he forgave everyone, even those that despised him
There were only two occasions when I thought he was visibly upset
 
And on both occasions, it was because someone had compromised the truth
On both occasions I had spoken to him at midnight about it, to cool him down
 
He would say to me “Ke shakgetse tota.┬á Tota ha o ne o seyo hale ke kabo ke shakgetse le go heta.┬á Mme kana ke a itse gore o shakgetse le wena, pharologanyo ya rona hela ke gore nna ke dirisa diele di le dintsinyana”
  
Although many of our people were prepared and willing to serve him
Gomolemo did not allow them; instead he offered himself as their servant
In the churches, among the choirs, in funerals, at weddings, at seminars, festivals, football occasions, political launches, international conventions, special national projects he was always the servant in chief.
When our people were violated, he felt violated
When they were oppressed, he felt oppressed
When they were without opportunity, he fought to bring forth opportunity
And when they were at a loss for hope, he felt a duty to ignite a flame of hope
 
On the choral circuit he had no match
He carried a conductor’s rode with delicate firmness
His feet rose and descended with the beautiful notes his choirs bellowed
Oh what beautiful music he wrote, so healing and so freeing from the troubles of this world
The same sort of songs that King David played to heal the troubled
 
They say the greatest gifts of them all is life and love
And these he had in abundance, this a matter he understood and often recited from the Psalmist, that
You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies. You anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows.
Surely your goodness and love will follow me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.
 
This was him, this is him, as the psalmist so eloquently submits
He gave himself wholly,
My family was his, and his was mine, and so was the case with many other families around him
 
Gomolemo was a loved man, oh crowds danced around him at political rallies
Policemen took off their hats for him, yes they did
And our members, our mothers, aunts and sisters of the umbrella
They competed to share their stories with him
The youngsters and many people around the world
He kept them giggling, he left them wishing to improve themselves
So this love that all of you have shown for him, the tears, the words and the salutations
And he understood this for he once came to me and asked “mokaulengwe kante batho ba re rata mo go kanana..”
The ladies and men at the office, MmaSibisibi, Disoso, AusBinki, Rre Moatlhodi, Rre Bobi, Rre Dubs, Rre Mmolotsi, Kgosi Tawana, Gideon Boko, Kgosikoma, Prince Dibeela and many many more of you
Motshwarakgole was one of our parents, willing to guide and encourage us
Pastors Mmualefhe, Dibeela and Hambira were our elder brothers, calling us for prayer in the
We were surrounded by old wise men, and I am delighted, one of them, RraGaone is here
  
Let me share a short story with you
Of a country that boasted about the peace that its governors said existed on the land
At weddings and funerals, people spoke of the tradition of peace
A tradition they cherished and celebrated
They boasted how different they were from originally war-torn nations
In flaming letters, they printed on children’s texts, that “ntwa-kgolo ke ya molomo”
They rejected anything that threatened their peace
They spoke about their love for unity and a united nation
A common kraal where all citizens, rich and poor, young and senior, urban and rural, were united as one
They boasted about good governance on their land
But those who allowed their spiritual eyes to see
Knew and understood that there was no peace on that land
They understood that the country was on auto-pilot and its only sustenance was based on the remnants of goodwill built on the peace that existed many years past
But on this land, in this story, good men and women were sidelined
Good men and women were silenced
The governors of this land unleashed a powerful communication machinery to paint these men and women as warmongers
They were made out to be power-mongers, trouble-makers
The people were told these a peace-haters
In the meanwhile those who governed drank from the cup of hatred
They governed with deceit and falsehoods, always withholding the truth from the people
They syphoned the country of its resources
They dumped every wonderful idea into the caves
To the naked eye, they appeared stately and noble
Slowly the people began to see them for who they were
Those with the spiritual eyes started praying
Those with political hands started mobilizing
Among these good men who had started this work
Was Gomolemo Motswaledi
 
The story ends there
It is a story that Sir G would have wanted you to finish
He would have trusted you to finish this  
In fact, he believed that you would finish it
And you would do it peacefully, wisely, creatively, faithfully, authentically, beautifully, firmly and with great conviction
He believed you would see this through, oh yes see it through
For in the nature of our work, there is no telling if the sun will rise the next day
Let no one mislead you
You don’t have to be loud for your voice to be heard
The force of peace is stronger than the force of violence
You can be militant and still be courteous (Steve Biko was militant but very kind to the police)
Love will always overpower hatred
Light will always chase away darkness
Wealth of heart is more enduring than earthly riches
And the forces of good will always defeat forces of darkness
Remember these words, for victory is tied with them
I see victory here, I see victory for our people
This is the path that Gomolemo has cultivated for our generation and for all generations to come
 
Let us do it for him
Let us persevere and move forward
Pastors, pray for this country, deliver this country for us, and protect them for us
Police officers and all our security forces, please, I beg you, I ask you, I call upon you, please protect the good men and women of this struggle, you know who they are
You, the young ones, he would have been proud of you, that finally you are beginning to stand for this country, but be smart about how you pursue the struggle
No one should find an excuse to call you violent or irresponsible
You can be firm without been violent
You can sing without being rowdy
We need you, we need your brains and your hands to shape the destiny of this country
 
The elders of this nation, please come out of your hibernation
The same truth you taught us to espouse is the same truth that you too must now espouse
Tell the Governors of this country, please tell them, that they have lost their way
Tell your children please, tell them, tell them the rulers of this country have lost their way
And the many men and women of this country
Stand up on your feet, fight for freedom and fairness to shower on the roof-tops of our homes
This is the time, Now is the time
 
Here lies the body of a human being of biblical proportions,
A symphony man, a man of beautiful speech, a man of poise of decorum,
A democrat, a tall operator of national projects, a disciplined cadre of the most wonderful political movement our country has known,
A visionary whose eyes saw beyond the rubicon,
A peacemaker, a man who was not afraid to speak the truth and act on what is right,
A sterling father, a disciplined son
Here is a man who would have been a fine vice president or even President of the Republic of Botswana
 
This is a song I would have asked him to sing for himself,
A song that I ask all of you to sing for yourself
I am a giant
I am an eagle
I am a lion
Down in the jungle
I am a marchin’ band
I am the people
I am a helpin’ hand
And I am a hero
If anybody asks u who I am
Just stand up tall look ‘em in the Face and say

I’m that star up in the sky
I’m that mountain peak up high
I made it

RELATED STORIES

Read this week's paper